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On 10 November 1925, the residents of Castlecrag came together in the basement of the then recently-opened shops (now the Griffin Centre) for what was to be the inaugural meeting of the Castlecrag Progress Association. Edgar William Herbert was elected president and Walter Burley Griffin served on the executive committee.

In celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the Castlecrag Progress Association (CPA) we remember its many achievements and those who have contributed to its proud record.

Edgar Herbert was a pioneer of physical education in Australia and, while working with the YMCA in Melbourne, he and his wife had become friends of the Griffins. When Herbert came to Sydney in 1923 to work with G Z Dupain (father of Max) at the Institute of Physical Education, he made his home in Castlecrag. The Herbert family initially lived in the King O’Malley house on the site of the present hospital, then moved to the end of Edinburgh Road. Herbert served as president of the CPA until 1929 and was also an instigator of the Community Circle.

Edgar Deans, who arrived in Castlecrag in 1928 as Secretary to the GSDA, was another key figure in the Progress Association. He served as its president for four years and as secretary for 13 years. He was also secretary and president of the Willoughby Federated Progress Associations and a Mayor of Willoughby.
The early concerns addressed by the Association included the establishment of a Government Infants’ School, better transport access to the city by construction of an arterial road from East Lindfield to North Sydney (now Eastern Valley Way), the upgrading of Edinburgh Road, undergrounding of electricity wires, sewage services for the peninsula and tree planting along Edinburgh Road.

Over the period 1944 to 1964, the Progress Association ‘retired’ in favour of the Castlecrag and East Willoughby Community Advancement Co-operative Society Ltd, which was formed to raise funds for and build a Community Centre. The centre was opened in 1947 and the Castlecrag Community Library opened its doors in 1951. Both facilities continue to serve the needs of our community.

The resurrected Progress Association arranged for the construction of the Griffin Memorial Fountain in 1965 and initiated tree planting at the shopping centre. By the 1970s, traffic issues were of increasing concern in the community and the Association led a successful campaign to stop the construction of the proposed Warringah Freeway along the Northern Escarpment of the peninsula. Traffic calming measures and the need for a right-hand turn signal at Eastern Valley Way were dominant issues in a survey of residents conducted in 1981.

The CPA commenced a community newsletter, Castlecrag News in 1974 and this became The Crag in March 1978. It has maintained a regular production schedule since then.

More recent community events sponsored by the Progress Association, notably the Castlecrag Community Fairs, and its achievements are being chronicled in the history series. The Association celebrated its 80th birthday at a special dinner held at Christine’s Restaurant on 18 November 2005. The Guest of honour, long-term Castlecrag resident Joyce Batterham, entertained the guests with a memorable presentation on the early days in the suburb.

Bob McKillop